With the intention of fostering competition among states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday asked six Chief Ministers — a careful mix of Congress, BJP, and non-Congress non-BJP CMs — to make short presentations on their development successes during the one-hour “agenda-less retreat” with all CMs, after his meeting with them over the form the Planning Commission should take.
The six states picked were BJP-governed Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, BJD-ruled Orissa, Sikkim with its Sikkim Democratic Front government, and Congress-led Karnataka and Kerala. Each CM touched upon a development story unique to his or her state. While Kerala CM Oomen Chandy spoke on tourism, Naveen Patnaik talked about disaster management, Vasundhara Raje held forth on employment generation, Shivraj Chouhan on banking-for-all or financial inclusion, Siddaramaiah on technology applications in governance and Pawan Kumar Chamling on organic farming.
Raje said amendments in labour laws had increased ease of doing business in Rajasthan and helped put in place a habitat for job creation. The reform agenda, she added, was also being linked to creation of physical and social infrastructure.
Chouhan spoke about Madhya Pradesh’s Samruddhi scheme, through which benefits for the poor are directly transferred to their accounts. Akin to the Centre’s Jan Dhan Yojana, it is a financial inclusion programme that aims to provide banking services to the economically weaker.
Chamling noted that Sikkim had become a leading state in producing organic fruits and vegetables. Modi had himself praised the state in the Lok Sabha earlier stating it was set to become the first 100 per cent organic state.
Siddaramaiah spoke about tech applications in collection of commercial taxes and other areas of governance in Karnataka.
According to a CM, the presentations were followed by a free-wheeling chat. “The idea was to let states talk about issues rather than merely demanding funding from the Centre,” said a government functionary. The PM reached out to all CMs, the functionary added.
Officials said chief secretaries of the six states were alerted a week in advance. “The CMs were briefed to talk about these programmes and how these added value to their states,” said an official.